Danny Boyle is a terrific filmmaker, and I know he has been elevated to God-like status after his efforts for the Olympics, but his new film Trance is not very good. Some of it is fairly entertaining, and it looks terrific (thanks to Anthony Dodd Mantle’s cinematography), but it’s full of problems.
There’s a bit of a difficulty here, as if I were to explain the film’s most severe weaknesses it would mean spoiling large parts of the plot (which I am not going to do). Let’s just say I guessed many of the story’s big twists ages before they happened. I don’t say this to boast about my intelligence. I think anyone who has seen a handful of intelligent thrillers, or most of Christopher Nolan’s CV, will in good stead to figure any surprises out for themselves very early on.
James McAvoy works at an auction house where people try to rob a painting. During the theft, he loses the paining and the thieves, lead by Vincent Cassel, need him to tell them where it is. Due to a head injury, he can’t remember. So to cure this, they take him to Harley Street hypnotist Rosario Dawson. From here anyone with a questioning mind will be able to work out what’s happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen. And once you’ve done that, the whole movie feels rather tiresome.
The performances are uniformly fine, but never interesting enough to sustain the movie. Though there are some witty moments, the script, written by Joe Ahearn and John Hodge, feels a little too bland and is only kept alive by Boyle’s frenetic and wacky direction. There is a heavy reliance on contrived events, luck and coincidence and an utterly preposterous revelation involving a hidden corpse which smacks of the very worst kind of lazy TV crime drama. Some viewers may get some pleasure from the story, and Boyle does at least make it generally watchable, but those who want their movies to hold up to closer examination will find this picture wanting.
Trance (2013), directed by Danny Boyle, is released in the UK by Twentieth Century Fox and Pathe UK, Certificate 15.